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Durham’s New Organist

Daniel Cook, who was born in Newcastle and grew up in Hartlepool, County Durham, has been appointed as Master of the Choristers and Organist at Durham Cathedral. He will succeed James Lancelot who retires in the summer, following a 32-year tenure in the position. Daniel leaves Westminster Abbey, where he is currently Sub-Organist, principal organist to the Abbey Choir, and Assistant Director of Music to James O’Donnell.

A press release from Durham Cathedral says:

Daniel has had a long association with Durham Cathedral, having been taught the organ by former Durham Cathedral Sub-Organist Keith Wright in 1996 and 1997. At this time he was a student at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College Hartlepool and sang in the Cathedral Consort of Singers, Durham Cathedral’s adult voluntary choir.

Leaving North East England to be Organ Scholar at Worcester Cathedral, Daniel then moved to London to attend the Royal Academy of Music where his teachers included James O’Donnell. Whilst at the Academy he worked as Organ Scholar at Southwark Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, graduating with first class honours in July 2003. He was subsequently Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey from 2003 to 2005 before becoming Assistant Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral and then Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Davids Cathedral.

Daniel combines his formal positions with a busy freelance career giving organ recitals in the UK and abroad as well as teaching and engagements as a conductor and singer. Recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Singers and Onyx Brass. CD recordings include the complete organ music of Charles Stanford, Herbert Brewer, Herbert Sumsion, George Dyson and Walter Alcock.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, says, “We are looking forward to Daniel taking up his appointment in the autumn, and are delighted that a native North East musician of international standing is ‘coming home’.  The next few months will be poignant as the retirement of James Lancelot comes ever closer, but it is good to know that an outstanding successor has been found who will continue and build on the legacy of James.”

Daniel Cook says, “Having learnt to play the organ on the wonderful Harrison & Harrison organ of Durham Cathedral, it is a huge privilege and honour to come back as Master of the Choristers and Organist. James Lancelot is a legendary musician with a huge reputation. Succeeding him will be daunting, but a challenge I am excited to take on.  I very much look forward to getting to know and working with the cathedral musicians, clergy, staff and volunteers as well as returning to my native North East England.”

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, says, “Although his time as Sub-Organist has been relatively brief, Daniel Cook has made a significant impact at the Abbey. He has been an exceptional accompanist for the Abbey Choir, and recitalist, and also a very fine conductor. We wish him well as he moves back to Durham and its wonderful cathedral, and for him and Miriam and their family every joy and blessing.”

James Lancelot officially retires in August, with his final service leading Durham Cathedral Choir being Evensong on Sunday 16th July at 3.30pm. The cathedral choir then takes a well-deserved break for the summer. James will be joined by a number of the senior choristers, one of the choral scholars, (a Durham University student who has sung with the cathedral choir whilst at Durham), and the cathedral’s Organ Scholar Jonathan Allsopp, also graduating from Durham University. As they move to new horizons, a large congregation is expected with people coming from around the world to bid farewell to James and wish him well. Daniel takes up his position in the autumn.